In the past two decades, particularly during modern administrations, debate about the role of science in the alternative development paradigm has emerged in different times and situations. Realistic verification of the loss of momentum of the pure raw materials export model revealed the need to place greater value on an economy that critically integrates science and technology as pillars of diversification. In addition, the climate crisis and the pandemic, which are currently exacerbated, have included in the same discussion new and urgent challenges, even for our survival, such as the need to protect ecosystems, democratize knowledge, decentralize research and innovation projects, and foster a multi-collaborative culture and interdisciplinary, with greater and decisive inclusion of women giving groundbreaking spaces for the social sciences and humanities, including art, in building an inclusive development model.
President-elect Gabriel Borek’s program places great emphasis on this strategic objective and commits to a significant increase in resources to advance science and knowledge under the premises already described. Despite some important advances, such as the establishment of the Ministry of Science, there are still cultural obstacles that are difficult to overcome in order to achieve the stated goals. More importantly, there is a clear suspicion on the part of some business sectors and the state administration that do not believe in developing their own capabilities and do not trust universities, especially public universities. Technocratic and short-term methods of project evaluation, which emphasize the one-dimensionality and the individual, without establishing a relationship with strategic objectives that facilitate complex evaluations of programs and long-term impacts, limit the scope of their occurrence. Other weaknesses result from the excessive individuality present in an important part of the academy and the current separation between the goals set in the programs and the expected outcomes and resource needs for their management and implementation.
These difficulties can be overcome through spaces of active participation that benefit from the enthusiasm generated by the opportunity of collaborative building of a state project whose goal is sustainable, equitable and harmonious development. Universities – which conduct the most research – must meet the state and its agencies, the innovative private sector, researchers at all levels of training and communities of regions, which change from subject of study to subjects of transformation.
In this context, constitutional debates are valuable spaces and constitute a great opportunity to highlight the role of science and knowledge in the development and progress of the democratic process in Chile, a role that cannot be relegated to a secondary sectoral issue that concerns only academics, but should be part of the central debate on society that We want to build it.
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